Trolls San Francisco Movie Review, Interview – We open Trolls Blind Bags with the directors of the Charming, Dazzling film with Catchy music, Silly Gags, and Groundbreaking Visuals.
“Trolls” San Francisco will not only have you singing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” but it will also make you laugh and wonder at the amazing onscreen animation. A feast for the eyes, ears, and funny bone, directors Mike Mitchell & Walt Dohrn have created a universe of colorful figures that won’t go away anytime soon. Familiar voices such as Jeffrey Tambor, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Justin Timberlake, and many others are perfect matches for their characters and families will enjoy both the story and the message of the film. Watch our fun interview with the directors and screenwriters.
From the creators of Shrek comes DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS, a smart, funny and irreverent comedy about the search for happiness, and just how far some will go to get it. The film transports audiences to a colorful, wondrous world populated by the overly optimistic Trolls, who have a constant dance in their step and a song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have Trolls in their stomachs. After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Their mission is full of adventure and mishaps, as this mismatched duo try to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done.
Utilizing music to further the film’s narrative, the TROLLS soundtrack is produced by Justin Timberlake, who serves as the film’s executive music producer, and features four original songs, including songs by Justin Timberlake Gwen Stefani, Anna Kendrick and Ariana Grande, in addition to a number of classic hits from the 1960s through the 1980s, rearranged and sung by members of the cast.
TROLLS features a stellar cast, including Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Quvenzhané Wallis, with John Cleese and Gwen Stefani.
The film also showcases a unique world inspired by fibers, flocked materials, fur, glitter and bright colors. Audiences will be totally enveloped in this tactile and inviting universe—the filmmakers call it “fuzzy immersion”—which is unlike any experienced before on film.
Then, there’s the hair—bright, candy-colored coifs grown to gravity-defying heights, the hallmark and crowning glory of Trolls everywhere.
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
TROLLS can be enjoyed by youngsters as a unique world rich with unforgettable characters, music, humor, adventure and color; as well as by adults, for whom the film’s overarching theme of the search for happiness will resonate long after the end credits have rolled.
Indeed, the Trolls’ all-singing, all-dancing, all-hugging world is all about happiness, which infuses every frame of the film. TROLLS explores how we treat others and, more importantly, how we treat ourselves. Its emotion-charged message is that happiness comes from within, and can be a powerful and infectious force when it’s spread.
That’s a potent and relevant idea, especially in today’s world, which has largely given way to negativity, fear and imbalance. The story of TROLLS suggests that each of us can bring change through positive thinking and actions, while highlighting the importance of doing the right thing, even—or especially—when facing formidable challenges.
Happiness was foremost in the minds of TROLLS director Mike Mitchell and co-director Walt Dohrn, even during the earliest stages of story discussions with screenwriters/co-producers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and producer Gina Shay.
The two filmmakers had worked together on DreamWorks Animation’s blockbuster Shrek franchise, and their familiarity with the beloved ogres of that world led them to their distant cousins, the Trolls.
Their research into Troll lore, which sprang from Scandinavian mythology, revealed that Trolls came in myriad shapes and sizes, from monstrous giants to tiny creatures who granted wishes. As DreamWorks had done with Shrek, Mitchell and Dohrn decided to adapt the Trolls mythology to create a new universe and set of characters.
The filmmakers note that they did embrace one aspect of previous Trolls history. “We were fascinated by how these creatures were originally scary-ugly and evolved over time into being cute-ugly,” says Mitchell. “In the 1970s they became a symbol for happiness.”
Adds Dohrn: “Their simplicity and imperfections were relatable and made people feel good.”
As they continued their explorations of all things Troll, Mitchell and Dohrn zeroed in on the motifs of happiness and optimism, and their imaginations ignited.
“Those ideas compelled us, as did the opportunity to create a story and mythology from scratch,” says Dohrn. “We decided it was time to start spreading some joy again. Mike and I had a blank slate, from which we could create anything with these characters, their story and their environments. With happiness as a guidepost, we wanted to create a film with a mix of fun, adventure, heart, music, color and textures.”
In many ways, says producer Gina Shay, another of Mitchell and Dohrn’s Shrek franchise alumna, TROLLS hearkens back to the 1970s, a time “when there was this feeling of freedom; disco, pop and dance music was everywhere; and everybody seemed to be roller skating. We wanted the Trolls to reflect that joy in their society. They’re also very peaceful.”
The Trolls even have a special kind of watch that reminds them to hug every hour on the hour. No matter what they’re doing, when the watch blooms, it’s “hug time.” Notes Mitchell: “Part of being happy is connecting with others, and what better way to show that than with a hug.”
“On the other hand, the Trolls’ neighbors, the Bergens, are neither enlightened nor peaceful,” Shay notes. “So the Trolls must try to apply that ‘70s feeling to the Bergens and teach them that happiness comes from within, and that you can find it in many different ways.” That’s no easy task because the Bergens lack harmony and joy and can find happiness only through outward, more harmful means. Their bliss is less in their control, and less satisfying when it’s achieved.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
With that through line of happiness in place, Mitchell and Dohrn began mapping out the story, enlisting the help of the screenwriting team of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who had been the architects of another animated film universe, having written the three Kung Fu Panda blockbusters for DreamWorks Animation. Berger calls the new assignment “a real creative change of pace, and so much fun.” Aibel adds that “the biggest gift to us as writers on TROLLS is its very premise. We started with the world’s most optimistic character and the world’s most pessimistic, and then launched them on a road trip.”
TROLLS opens, of course, on an upbeat note, depicting how the Trolls live to sing, dance and hug; dance, hug and sing…well, you get it.
After an action-packed backstory that depicts Troll King Peppy’s (Jeffrey Tambor) heroic rescue of his people, who had been captured by the Bergens, and the setting up of a new Trolls home in the forest, we meet Peppy’s now grown daughter, Poppy, who leads a celebration because…they really love to celebrate!
Unfortunately, Poppy and the Trolls’ non-stop revelry attracts the attention of the Bergens, and the Trolls’ twenty year period of freedom from their unhappy neighbors comes to an end when the ever-scheming Bergen, Chef (Christine Baranski), nabs Poppy’s friends and whisks them away to Bergen Town.
With nowhere else to turn, Poppy seeks the help of the only Troll who knows how to find Bergen Town—the always prepared, overly cautious and decidedly unhappy Branch (Justin Timberlake). Branch is the only Troll who doesn’t sing or dance, and he never, ever, hugs.
To rescue Poppy’s friends from a less-than-happy fate, she and Branch must journey to the dangerous world of the Bergens. Along the way, Poppy and Branch hit every imaginable obstacle. At a critical juncture, the power of positive thinking seems to fail Poppy, who despairs and loses her resolve. Negativity, like happiness, is contagious, so when Poppy falters, so do her friends. It falls on the least likely member of the group to bring happiness back to the Trolls.
POPPY & BRANCH: WHEN OPPOSITES COLLIDE
But when we meet Poppy, she is an eternal optimist who finds the inspiration for optimism from within. She is the ultimate purveyor of positivity. Moreover, she is an empowered female who is capable and confident, strong and resolute, collaborative and inclusive.
“Poppy is unlike any princess you’ve seen before,” says Mitchell. “In addition to her leadership skills, she has a quirky edge, which Anna Kendrick really helped bring to life. Adds Shay: “Anna is herself a little cynical, and it was wonderful to have her give Poppy gravitas, depth and layers.”
Poppy’s unique qualities also include her appearance, which resonated with Shay, who explains: “As filmmakers, I feel it’s our responsibility to create memorable characters that don’t make girls feel inadequate in body image. We broke every princess rule in the book on this one because we kept the Troll shapes round and shoeless.
“My daughter is eleven,” Shay continues. “She has a really powerful mind and I’d rather have her using it to be imaginative, instead of obsessing in the mirror. Because all girls are beautiful!”
Kendrick appreciates Poppy’s toughness, sassiness, can-do attitude, loyalty and, most of all, her leadership skills. But when she first met with Mitchell and Dohrn to discuss the role, the actress notes she had some concerns. “I hardly felt like the person to play the happiest Troll; sugary sweet isn’t really my forte. I warned Mike, Walt and Gina that I might lead Poppy down a feistier path. I think I used the term ‘sparkplug.’”
When the filmmakers assured Kendrick that her vision for Poppy was in sync with theirs, she embraced her inner Troll with a vengeance. “Each time I stepped into the recording booth and was greeted with a picture of Poppy’s smiling face, I couldn’t wait to add some fire, sarcasm, sass and determination to her,” Kendrick recalls. “That’s what makes the difference between a relentlessly happy character that’s a little irritating and one that really comes to life.
“That said, I usually ruined the first five minutes of each recording session by talking in my ‘adorable voice.’ I couldn’t help it; Poppy is so cute! But Mike and Walt encouraged me to make this tiny pink creature feel real and complicated. Poppy might not look like Shrek, but she’s complex, like him.”
After viewing some early footage, Kendrick discovered even more unexpected aspects to the character, thanks, she says, to the “animation dream team at DreamWorks, which had captured the little firecracker inside Poppy with every minute expression.
“Every time they asked me to do another recording session, it made my week. I experienced that moment of recognition when I wondered, how does a six-inch-tall pink Troll kind of remind me of myself? Watching Poppy and the other Trolls fills me with joy.”
Poppy’s disgruntled counterpart/partner, Branch, is the sole paranoid Troll. Long after the Trolls’ liberation from Bergen captivity, he was the only one who continued to see the Bergens as a threat, but no one in town believed him. Branch lives a discontented existence and is constantly preparing for the worst. He’s lost his sense of joy and is flummoxed by the over-the-top positivity of the other Trolls. Branch often wonders if he is the only sane Troll left. Over the course of the film, he is challenged to let go of his past, even if that includes a dreaded burst of singing, dancing and hugging.
Branch represents our fears and how they can envelop us and prevent our inner happiness from blossoming. Ever vigilant, he is consumed with exploring potential dangers and spends his life bracing for the worst instead of enjoying the present. While some of his concerns are well-founded because there are very real dangers nearby, Branch must learn he has to keep living his life and not let fear win.
“Branch isn’t much of a people person,” notes Justin Timberlake, who voices the role and serves as the film’s executive music producer. “He doesn’t sing, dance or hug, which makes him somewhat of an outcast—by his own choice—in the Troll community.
“He’s a hardcore survivalist and a huge contrast to all the other Trolls,” Timberlake continues. “He doesn’t connect with anybody.”
Like all survivalists, Branch sees danger everywhere, and thus the need for special housing impervious to unwanted visitors, be they Bergens or Trolls. So he’s constructed an underground Survival Bunker, which he touts as being highly camouflaged, heavily fortified and 100 percent Bergen-proof.
“Yeah, Branch is obsessed,” says Timberlake, who embraced some of Branch’s un-Troll-like attitude. “I thought playing Branch’s sarcasm and pessimism would be a lot of fun,” he points out, “even though I’m generally not like that — at least not after I’ve had my morning coffee.”
Citing the character’s relatability, despite—or maybe, thanks to—his persistent negativity, Timberlake jokes that, “Branch is going to be the voice of every dad who sees TROLLS. They are going to love Branch, and wonder, ‘Why are the Trolls so happy all the time?’”
Just as Kendrick was wary of overdoing Poppy’s perpetual peppiness, Timberlake did not want to make Branch too much of a grump. “I was concerned that he was going to be overly cantankerous and that some in the audience weren’t going to like him,” he explains. “Fortunately, Mike, Walt and I struck a really nice balance with the character’s demeanor. But we never lost sight of the fun that came with Branch and Poppy being polar opposites of one another.”
When Poppy and Branch team up to free her friends, the two Trolls’ extreme natures eventually meet in the middle, with surprising results. Concurrently, Poppy is on a secondary rescue mission, this one of a more personal nature: to change Branch’s attitude.
Like many other great onscreen couples, Branch and Poppy prove opposites do not attract, at least not at first. That makes the progression of their relationship even more fun to experience. “Poppy loves Branch because she loves everything and everyone. And that annoys Branch even more, which is a bonus for Poppy,” says Kendrick. Timberlake notes that Poppy’s constant needling of Branch, “is a kind of flirtation,” while Dohrn likens it to one of the screen’s most celebrated pairings: “That dynamic gave us the kind of warm feeling we experienced when telling a story about Shrek and Donkey.”
While the contentious chemistry between Poppy and Branch brings out their opposing natures, over the course of their adventure they slowly begin to influence and learn from one another. After all, they must figure out how to work together to save Poppy’s friends. The mission affects Poppy in ways she could never have anticipated. “One of the keys to Poppy’s journey was figuring out how to take someone who’s happy-go-lucky all the time, and have her experience numerous challenges, so that when she comes out the other side, happy again, it’s an earned happiness, rather than something that was just handed to her,” says screenwriter Glenn Berger.
THE BERGENS: LOOKING FOR HAPPY IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
The Bergens are the flip side of the Trolls. These depressed giants believe that menacing Trolls is the only viable path to their happiness. “The Bergens are just mean, petulant and cranky,” Mitchell notes. “It’s a good thing they don’t have smartphones because the Bergens would just stare at them all time. They don’t connect with anyone.”
The leader of the Bergens, voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, is King Gristle, Jr., a surly, twenty-something who has vowed to bring happiness back to Bergen Town by capturing the nearby but well-hidden Trolls. Gristle Jr. is the son of King Gristle, voiced by comedy legend John Cleese.
Berger says the young monarch is his favorite character, and refers to a specific moment in the film to explain why: “Gristle is shopping in a bib store and he’s being just a bratty little king who’s insisting that all the bibs are wrong for him. ‘I want a man’s bib!’ he exclaims. To me, that one line explains everything about the character.”
Gristle’s behavior can also be explained by the young royal having “never experienced happiness or love,” says Mintz-Plasse, whose signature comedy role was as McLovin in the hit Superbad. The actor notes that when he first discussed the role with the filmmakers, he saw a picture of Gristle and thought, “‘Oh, okay, he’s kind of a gremlin-like guy.’ I was prepared for Mike and Walt to ask me to throw on some sort of weird voice. ‘Nope,’ they said, ‘we want exactly what you do, straight Christopher Mintz-Plasse.’”
Given his truculent ways, it’s no surprise that Gristle is unlucky in love. But that status may change, if the Bergen scullery maid Bridget has anything to say about it. Voiced by Zooey Deschanel (New Girl, Elf), Bridget is the sweetest, most kindhearted Bergen in all of Bergen Town; in fact, she may be the only kindhearted Bergen. Bridget is sensitive and soft-spoken, and harbors a crush on the king. “She’s our Cinderella,” says Mitchell.
Screenwriter Jonathan Aibel has a special affection for Bridget, a character he describes as being “a challenge to write, because when we meet her, she’s uncommunicative. So to see her grow and learn how to express herself is probably my favorite part of the movie, especially when she goes on her dream date with King Gristle.”
As her big evening with Gristle unfolds, Bridget gets help from Poppy and her friends, who not only provide the maid with rainbow-colored tresses made from their own collective hair, but try and help put words in Bridget’s mouth as the tongue-tied maid attempts to converse with Gristle. “That ‘Cyrano’ scene was the most fun we had writing on the film,” says Aibel.
A Bergen of true evil intent is Chef (Christine Baranski, making her animated feature debut), who once held a coveted spot in the Royal Bergen Kitchen, until her dastardly plans were dashed twenty years earlier. Now, Chef has discovered the Trolls’ hiding spot, and she can’t wait to get her hands on them again.
Baranski, who has portrayed a string of unforgettable characters, including a high-powered attorney on the acclaimed series The Good Wife, imbues Chef with a skillful balance of menace and fun. And she has no bigger fan than Kendrick, who had worked with the versatile actress in the musical film Into the Woods. “Chef is grumpy, power-hungry and kind of cruel—all those things Christine is so wonderful at playing, and so unlike who she really is,” says Kendrick. “It’s a lot of fun to see what she’s done with Chef.”
Finally, there’s Bibbly Bibbington (Rhys Darby), the proprietor of the #1 bib store in all of Bergen Town. It’s not an easy gig, especially when he’s providing dinner attire to a very demanding king.
Poppy cherishes her friends in Troll Village, and will do anything to rescue them from the clutches of the Bergens. Her most expansive friend is Biggie (James Corden), who also has the biggest heart in all of Troll-dom. Underneath his Biggie-than-life exterior, he’s actually a huge softie, and though he’s a Troll of few words, Biggie is kind of the group’s captain.
Biggie’s closest pal is Mr. Dinkles, a caterpillar who acts like a cat, and whom Biggie enjoys dressing up in hats. The multi-talented James Corden, whose in-car karaoke sessions from his The Late Late Show have become an internet sensation, was so much fun in the role, recalls Berger, that “We said, we’ve got to write more jokes for Biggie, because James is killing it!’”
Troll Village’s resident deejay is DJ Suki (voiced by music superstar Gwen Stefani) can always be counted on to lay down some bouncy beats for an impromptu musical moment, of which there are many in this always singing and dancing world. Suki’s DJ equipment is all natural, consisting of crickets, beetles and other bugs that together create a unique sound.
Taking on the roles of Satin and Chenille, aka The Fashion Twins, is Icona Pop, the Swedish pop music duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, best known for the hit song “I Don’t Care.” Satin and Chenille are really, really close; in fact they’re conjoined by their brightly colored hair. The Twins are instrumental in putting together Poppy’s outfits.
Like their on-screen alter-egos, the Icona Pop pair are tight. “When we recorded them, they acted like sisters, and often would finish each other’s sentences,” says Dohrn.
Poppy’s pal Creek (voiced by Russell Brand) is the most positive, supportive, reassuring Troll in all of Troll Village. But it turns out Creek has a dark side, which manifests itself in a dangerous way for his friends. When we meet the character, he appears, says Brand, to be “a particularly enlightened Troll and perhaps even the next generation of the Troll species. He’s moved beyond the material world, even if the material is fuzzy and felt.” But at a critical moment, Creek undergoes a less than enlightened change of heart. “He becomes a Benedict Arnold—a turncoat and a betrayer,” says Brand.
“We liked the idea of someone close to Poppy breaking her heart by deceiving her,” says Aibel. “Creek had to be charming and funny, while irritating Branch with his positivity. At the same time, he had to be hiding a selfish, cynical nature that reveals itself when he betrays Poppy. Russell Brand was real gift to us to bring all of that to life.”
Then there’s Guy Diamond (voiced by The Big Bang’s Kunal Nayyar), the resident naked Glitter Troll. Given his preference to remain unclothed, save for some strategically placed glitter, Guy has heaps of body confidence and is a party on two feet.
Cooper, voiced by comedian Ron Funches, is a rarity in Troll Village: a fuzzy, harmonica-playing, giraffe-like Troll with a goofy grin plastered permanently on his face. “Cooper’s defining trait is his boundless enthusiasm,” says Funches. The character also has a…unique… reaction to being frightened.
Dohrn stepped in front of the mic to record the character of Smidge, a tiny Troll with a shockingly deep baritone voice. Her hobbies include weightlifting, listing to Swedish metal, and crocheting. The co-director also voices the role of Cloud Guy, a puff-shaped inhabitant of the forest, with a penchant for tube socks and high-fiving everyone he meets.
The rest of the group includes Fuzzbert, a Troll comprised almost entirely of hair—that’s no small matter given that tresses are a defining Troll feature; and Harper, who uses her hair as her paintbrush, creating detailed, iconic pieces of art.
THE UNIQUE WORLD OF TROLLS
The technology available for animated filmmaking is more sophisticated and photo-realistic than ever before. In many features, for example, grass has never looked grassier and water never more… watery.
But the TROLLS filmmakers had a very different kind of vision in mind for these bleeding-edge visual effects tools. They decided to create a world unlike any other experienced on film. “We wanted to transport audiences to a handmade universe,” says Mitchell.
Production designer Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin based the film’s look on Fiber Art textures, including felts, velvet, macramé, and flocked materials. The filmmakers called it “fuzzy immersion,” a process they say will make audiences want to reach into the film and touch the characters and settings.
The design, like everything in TROLLS, is informed by joy and merriment. Much of the film, says Cronkhite-Shaindlin, is an “explosion of color, which puts an exclamation mark” on that motif. “No matter what obstacles Poppy encounters on her journey, the environment is usually fun and over-the top-colorful. ‘Dark and moody’ is just not very Troll-like,” she adds.
Cronkhite-Shaindlin also drew from the 1960s and ‘70s, the era when the cheerful versions of these mythological creatures became popular. “The ‘70s, in particular, are referenced a lot,” she explains. “Trolls are kind of hippy-esque in the way they live communally, in nature. And they’re probably vegetarians.”
The Trolls’ home turf, Troll Village, is a magical place deeply rooted in their culture. It is nestled in a divot in a forest, “which is human-scale, so it’s huge for them,” notes Cronkhite-Shaindlin. “We wanted the Trolls to be like forest sprites who are in touch with their environment, which is fuzzy like they are.”
There are a few key moments devoid of fuzziness and explosions of color, notably in scenes when the Trolls de-saturate, signaling that they’re fearful or have lost hope. Also, Branch’s obsession with the Bergens leads him to become almost Bergen-like himself, and there is some darkness in his Survival Bunker.
Darkness is only one of several design templates that help define the Bergens. Their world is inspired by the shag carpet and Brutalist movement that was popular in the 1970s, and which seemed appropriate for monstrous beings. “Their society is somewhat like the suburbanite ‘70s, so the Bergens are all about polyester, plastic, formica and other synthetics,” Cronkhite-Shaindlin elaborates. “They eat fast food and are out of touch with nature and anything that’s good about the world. The Bergen palette is also very ‘70s: they’re all burnt oranges and gold, and avocado green.”
For the film’s overall look, Mitchell and Dohrn also pay homage to one of the cinema’s most towering figures, Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist whose many acclaimed films include the animated classics Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. “Many of Miyazaki’s films are like fairytale dreams with weird and wonderful creatures,” Mitchell explains. “Those things really influenced TROLLS, which, though it feels like a rave party and is very irreverent, is also like a strange fairytale-like dream.”
HAIR’S THE THING
Hair is a defining aspect of the Trolls and their universe, and bringing its nearly supernatural powers to life fell to a specially created “Hair Task Force,” made up of hundreds of artists and technicians working only on hair effects, ensuring that this magical thing was always looking—and acting—fabulous.
TROLLS is the first DreamWorks Animation film to use Willow, the company’s proprietary long hair simulation tool. Willow is unique in that it is both efficient and stable in how it solves lots of “bad hair day” problems, such as bending, friction, elasticity, and collisions of hundreds of thousands of hairs on a character’s head.
It enabled the production’s talented artists to style, simulate, and preview Troll hair all in one application, giving them interactive artistic control that brought the hair to life as a character. Previous to Willow, artists from multiple departments needed to use a variety of tools to achieve the style, performance and look of hair.
That technology was utilized to its maximum capacity because the Trolls build everything out of hair; they get around on zip lines built from it and exercise on macramé-d trampolines made of…you guessed it…hair. Even their fire and water look like hair. “It’s such a fully realized world that you don’t even question the fact that fire is made of hair,” notes Timberlake. “Hair is the Trolls’ superpower!”
“Troll hair takes on a life of its own,” adds Kendrick. “Trolls can hide stuff in it, fight with it and even use it as a staircase. There’s limitless potential resting right there on their heads. It makes me wonder why I even bother taking care of my own hair when it’s not doing anything like that for me. It’s not helping me fight giant spiders.”
Says Timberlake: “Branch uses his hair as whip; let’s see Indiana Jones try that!”
All that hair-raising derring-do didn’t come easily: the Hair Task Force created a total of 1.8 million strands, with Poppy taking 84,000, Branch almost 50,000—and Lady Glittersparkles (aka Bridget) taking the furry crown, using 237,375 strands, with help from Poppy and her pals, of course.
ALL THAT GLITTERS…
What’s a party without glitter? Early on, the filmmakers knew they wanted to use glitter as an effect to increase the joyful nature of the Trolls. They foresaw utilizing glitter clouds and sprays throughout the film—and even as textures on characters. “Glitter is important to a Troll,” notes Dohrn. “It’s a big part of their world and—sometimes—how they express their jubilance.”
TROLLS is the first film to use glitter to this extent. But until the film was well underway, quality glitter didn’t come easily. Even the most advanced computers had a difficult time dealing with glitter, which needs to move, blow around and reflect light in different directions. The filmmakers discovered that glitter flakes looked great when the Trolls were stationary, but when they moved or danced—and Trolls do love to dance—the effect fell apart.
“Who knew that something like glitter could be so complex?” says Mitchell.
Once again, high tech innovation saved the day—and the Trolls’ glittery world. The DreamWorks tech team developed a GlitterFlakes shader, enabling the artists to easily control the motion, shape and reflectiveness of glitter flakes. A 3D noise cloud of spheres gives the glitter flakes a look of natural random distribution—just as it looks in the real world. The artists could dial up or down the 3D noise cloud to keep the glitter movement looking random, while also making it possible to “direct” it.
Because the Trolls sometimes need to glitter their hair, the crack DreamWorks “Hair Team” adjusted its Hair Systems to also have a reference pose space, to enable glittery flakes to sparkle with dancing hair.
The filmmakers like to call the area that housed the GlitterFlakes Shader the “Glitter Labs,” manned by scientists who, Mitchell jokes, “study glitter and throw it around a lot.”
As if creating new tools for hair and glitter weren’t enough, the tech wizards at DreamWorks developed a proprietary Digital Gardening Tool Kit for TIBER, which facilitated real-time, interactive art direction, which in turn allowed the designers to “plant” the incredibly detailed Troll Village.
Specifically, the Digital Gardening Tool enabled interactive art direction for the various plants, mushrooms and houses that populate Troll Village. It is gardening made easy—and gorgeous.
TROLLS also gives a lot of digital love to the art of scrapbooking because that’s how Trolls record their history. Whenever the film takes us into Poppy’s mind, it looks like a scrapbook, and you see much of her world through that kind of album. Another special team focused on that critical task.
ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING – ALL TROLLS
Adding another important dimension and personality to TROLLS is the music. A top priority for the filmmakers and Studio was ensuring that all the songs propelled the story forward. “The lyrics are part of the narrative,” adds Dohrn. “We never wanted the story to stop just because a song began.”
Mitchell and Dohrn outlined the story and then searched for songs that fit the tone of a given moment, or provided insight into a character’s personality. It was a back-and-forth “audition” process that stretched on for years, encompassing hundreds, if not thousands, of tunes.
Initially, the filmmakers envisioned using only classic songs, to facilitate a shared experience for audiences. But when Timberlake came aboard as executive music producer, it was an easy decision to have him write or co-write some new ones, as well.
Doing double duty on TROLLS, says Timberlake, “was an embarrassment of riches.
“I’ve always wanted to oversee a motion picture soundtrack,” he continues, “and I thought what better way to jump into that than when I’m already acting in the movie. I feel closer to the story having played a character in it. Voicing Branch was definitely helpful in writing music for TROLLS.”
Having Timberlake assume those responsibilities was the perfect marriage of artist and material. “It felt organic for Justin to become our partner,” says Shay, noting his instant connection to the project. “When we presented some images and rough scenes to him, Justin just clicked—he was out of his chair and you could feel his enthusiasm. He took the music to unexpected levels of sophistication and also brought the tone; he really embellished the sounds from a production standpoint and made them sound so much better.”
In his role as executive music producer, Timberlake worked closely with the actors to hone their musical performances. “Justin was tireless in his efforts to get the best from our formidable and multi-talented cast,” says Mitchell. “His passion for the music was inspiring to all.” Mintz-Plasse adds that having Timberlake oversee his singing performance “was the most fun I had working on TROLLS. I’ve been a massive fan of his acting and musical talents for years. To enter the recording booth and have Justin tell me how to sing are moments I won’t soon forget.”
Kendrick jokes that when she was working with Timberlake in his music producing capacity, she felt like she “was in one of those movies about musicians and Justin was the guy pressing the buttons in the control booth, saying, ‘Do it better!’’
TROLLS opens with the song, “Hair Up,” performed by Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and Ron Funches. The piece, with music and lyrics by Timberlake, Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha and Oscar Holter, helps sets up the story of the bummed-out Bergens and, specifically, young King Gristle, Jr.
Then, we’re treated to a brief history of the Trolls civilization, to the tune of “September,” with music and lyrics by Al McKay, Allee Willis and Maurice White, performed by The Outfit; followed by a jaunty piece in which Poppy and some junior Trolls sing in harmony.
A compilation incorporating “Move Your Feet” (written by Jesper Mortensen), “D.A.N.C.E.” (written by Gaspard Auge, Jessie Chaton and Xavier De Rosnay) and “It’s a Sunshine Day” (written by Stephen McCarthy), and performed by Funches, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Icona Pop, Stefani, Kunal Nayyar and Walt Dohrn—provides a rollicking dance number as the Trolls head toward a birthday celebration for King Peppy.
“Get Back Up Again” is an original song by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the writers of the upcoming Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. It is sung by Kendrick, as Poppy sets off on her journey and encounters some daunting challenges along the way. Poppy may have some doubts about the rescue mission, but she can’t entertain them. She must be the eternal optimist, and the song expresses that in a fun, upbeat way.
Branch agrees, very reluctantly, to join forces with Poppy, and as the two settle down for the night, by a campfire, Poppy annoys Branch with her renditions of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (music by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt, lyrics by Gus Kahn) and “The Sound of Silence” (music and lyrics by Paul Simon), which Kendrick makes her own. “That might be my favorite,” says the actress, referring to the beloved Simon and Garfunkel classic, “because not only do I get to sing this wonderful song, but Poppy is taking a lot of pleasure in how much Branch hates that she’s singing.”
Things turn a little darker with Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood,” performed by The Outfit. The song’s somber and ironic tone and lyrics accompany another look at the Bergens going about their sad lives.
“Get Lucky” performed by the Vitamin C Quartet, sees King Gristle gobbling up Creek—or so it seems.
Lionel Richie’s ballad “Hello,” sung by Zooey Deschanel as Bridget, underscores the scullery maid’s touching crush on King Gristle.
The Trolls are all-too-briefly reunited with Poppy, which of course calls for a “Celebration” (with some new lyrics for the Kool and the Gang classic), followed by “Fakeover,” sung by Funches, Kendrick, Corden, Icona Pop, Stefani and Nayyar—where the Trolls convince Bridget to get a makeover.
In the midst of the celebrating, Branch has an emotional flashback and tells the Trolls the tragic story of his grandmother’s death, as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (immortalized by Bonnie Tyler, and here performed by Liam Henry, Deschanel, Funches, Corden, Icona Pop, and Nayyar) accompanies the tale.
We return to Bridget’s makeover, as she and her new friends sing a re-record of “I’m Coming Out” (written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, originally sung by Diana Ross, and here performed by Funches, Kendrick, Corden, Icona Pop, Stefani and Nayyar, with a solo by Deschanel) to prepare Bridget for a big date with the king. The makeover also includes a pseudonym Bridget has latched onto for her fateful evening out: Lady Glittersparkles.
It’s time for the big date! Bridget and the King share a pizza and then roller skate through the universe, as Ariana Grande sings “They Don’t Know,” with music and lyrics by Max Martin, Justin Timberlake and Shellback.
Later, Gristle tries to get in dating shape by working out furiously on a treadmill to a re-record of the disco hit “I Feel Love,” once popularized by Donna Summer, and here sung by Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the young king. Then, the besotted monarch waits at a window, hoping Lady Glittersparkles arrives, as “Hair Up” reprises, performed by Timberlake.
A re-record of “True Colors” (music and lyrics by Thomas Kelly and William Steinberg), performed by Kendrick and Timberlake, accompanies a climactic emotional scene with Poppy, Branch and Poppy’s friends, as the princess loses hope—and color. “It’s an amazing moment in the film,” says Timberlake. “The song had a specific meaning when it was sung by Cyndi Lauper in the ‘80s, and it takes on a new meaning in our movie. There’s no other piece that would work as well for this scene.”
“They Don’t Know” is reprised by Ariana Grande, as Gristle and Bridget find love again.
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” written by Timberlake, Martin and Shellback, is a celebratory anthem that brings the Trolls and Bergens together. The song is performed by Timberlake, Deschanel, Funches, Mintz-Plasse, Kendrick, Corden, Icona Pop, Stefani, Nayyar, and a chorus. “It’s full of optimism, which carried over to its creation,” notes Timberlake, adding, “Writing it actually made me feel happy.” Director Mike Mitchell adds that the song “sums up everything we wanted to do with the film. It creates happiness when you hear it.
“We told Justin, ‘You need to write a song that transforms an entire community’s world view, so go!’ That’s not an easy task, by the way. Well, for Justin, maybe it is.”
As the end credits roll, we’re treated to “September,” performed by Kendrick and Timberlake.
Versatile film composer Christophe Beck, whose numerous credits include Pitch Perfect, Frozen and Ant-Man, worked closely with Timberlake to compose the score. “Christophe has taken the songs, which had a feeling of continuity but are from several eras, and interpolated some of them into his score,” says Shay. “For example, Christophe took ‘Hello,’ and used that as Bridget’s theme throughout the movie.”
Okay, so it’s nice to be happy. Happy is good. But why make a movie about it? Mitchell returns to the idea that “there are a lot of unfortunate things occurring in today’s world, so why not go to the movies and see something that looks and feels like a party, and have a good time?”
Dohrn adds a similarly upbeat perspective: “It’s nice to make a film that spreads optimism and at the same time asks some important questions about it, and how it originates.”
For Shay, the film is all about fun and surprises. “TROLLS has an abundance of irreverent humor, which is completely unexpected, as well as a lot of heart,” she says. “It also immerses you in a world you’ve never experienced before.”
For its two lead actors, the theme of joyfulness is a key reason they joined the project—and it provided an unforgettable memory once they wrapped. “TROLLS makes me smile and laugh,” says Timberlake. “I love its non-cynical humor. Happiness connects us, and funny enough, the character I play, Branch, is trying so hard to avoid it. In the end, of course, he really can’t.”
“When I watch the movie I wish its universe was real,” Kendrick says. “And that I could visit it.”
ABOUT THE CAST
ANNA KENDRICK (Poppy) has a variety of accomplishments that showcase her impressive range of talents. She was notably the lead in Pitch Perfect 2, which broke the record as the highest grossing musical of all time. The song Cups, which Kendrick performed in the first Pitch Perfect film, went multi-platinum, and was one of Billboards’ top songs of 2013. Kendrick has completed Scrappy Little Nobody, a collection of humorous, autobiographical essays, published by Simon & Schuster, which will be in stores November 15. Using her witty, one-of-a-kind commentary, Kendrick shares the absurdities she has experienced.
Kendrick recently starred with Zac Efron in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. She can next be seen in the action-thriller The Accountant, opposite Ben Affleck, out on October 14, 2016; and Fox Searchlight’s Table 19, which reunites Kendrick with Rocket Science director Jeffrey Blitz. She can also be seen in The Hollars, alongside John Krasinski (who also directed the film), which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was sold to Sony Pictures Classics.
Kendrick’s other recent credits include Walt Disney Pictures’ Into the Woods, where she played Cinderella opposite Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp; Radius/Weinstein’s film adaptation of the musical The Last Five Years; the independent films Cake and Happy Christmas; Drinking Buddies, in which Kendrick starred opposite Olivia Wilde and Ron Livingston; Summit Entertainment’s comedy-drama 50/50, with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt; and David Ayerʼs intense crime-drama, End of Watch, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. Kendrick was also in the blockbuster Twilight Saga franchise.
In 2010 Kendrick starred opposite George Clooney and Jason Bateman in the lauded film Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman, for which she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and was honored by The National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actress and by the MTV Movie Awards for Best Breakout Star. Kendrick also earned nominations from the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, The Golden Globes, BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild.
Kendrick notably starred in Picturehouseʼs Rocket Science, directed by Jeffrey Blitz. Her performance as an ultra-competitive high school debate team member garnered critical acclaim and the film received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Kendrick was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the film.
She made her feature film debut in director Todd Graffʼs Camp, a favorite at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Her performance in the cult classic earned her an Independent Spirit Awards nomination, as well as a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Annual Chlotrudis Awards.
An accomplished theatre veteran, Kendrick began her career as Dinah Lord in the 1997 Broadway musical production of High Society, for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The honor made the then-12-year-old the second youngest Tony nominee in award history. Kendrick also garnered Drama League and Theatre World awards, as well as Drama Desk and FANY award nominations.
Kendrickʼs additional theatre credits include a feature role in the New York City Operaʼs production of A Little Night Music, starring Jeremy Irons, My Favorite Broadway/The Leading Ladies: Live at Carnegie Hall, and Broadway workshops of Jane Eyre and The Little Princess.
An actor and musician, the multi-talented JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (Branch) has won nine Grammys and numerous other awards. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Timberlake quickly became a highly respected musician, and his debut solo album, Justified, led to his first two Grammys in 2004 for “Cry Me a River” (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) and Justified (Best Pop Vocal Album). His second studio album, FutureSex/Love Sounds, picked up two more Grammys for “SexyBack” (Best Dance Recording) and “My Love” (Rap/Sung Collaboration).
The following year, Timberlake won Grammys for the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “What Goes Around…Comes Around” and “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Interlude” (Best Dance Recording). As a featured artist in Jay-Z’s song “Holy Grail,” Timberlake won yet another Grammy (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration), while his double album, The 20/20 Experience resulted in the final two Grammys to date: for “Pusher Love Girl” (Best R&B Song) and “Suit & Tie” (Best Music Video).
A gifted actor, Timberlake has appeared in diverse films including Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan and Shrek the Third. He won strong reviews for his performance in Oscar-nominated The Social Network. Other credits include Bad Teacher, Friends with Benefits, In Time, Inside Llewyn Davis and Runner Runner.
Timberlake has won four Emmys for his appearances on the legendary show, Saturday Night Live.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL (Bridget), an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and Grammy Award nominee and Critics’ Choice Award winner, is an entertainer in every sense of the word, bringing the classical leading lady to the modern audience with her old-fashioned charm. Lauded as timeless, vintage and ethereal, Deschanel’s starring roles in (500) Days of Summer, opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Yes Man, opposite Jim Carrey, cemented her place as a mainstream presence with a handle for nuance.
Movie lovers have long known Deschanel for her breakout performance in Cameron Crowe’s ensemble film, Almost Famous, opposite Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand; and All the Real Girls, for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. Indie film buffs often cite Deschanel’s depth in films such as The Good Girl, with Jennifer Aniston, and Eulogy, with Debra Winger and Ray Romano. Of course, kids of all ages fell in love with her memorable performance in the instant Christmas classic Elf, opposite Will Ferrell.
Deschanel’s side-gig as a musical artist has only added to her reputation. Her most recent album with collaborator M. Ward, She & Him: Classics, was released in 2014.
For her lead role as Jess on New Girl, Deschanel was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. In 2012, she won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (tying with Amy Poehler) and was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical. Always creatively evolving, Deschanel will now add Director to her list of titles as she makes her directorial debut with New Girl’s Season 6 premiere episode.
Deschanel made her feature film debut in 1999, in Lawrence Kasdan’s ensemble drama Mumford. In Failure to Launch, with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, she played the endearing sidekick Kit. Deschanel also starred in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, with Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and John Malkovich, and was seen in Bridge to Terabithia, based on the Newberry Award-winning children’s novel. She provided the voice of a surfing penguin alongside Shia LaBeouf and Jeff Bridges in the hit animated movie Surf’s Up and starred in the indie ensemble comedy Our Idiot Brother with Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer and Rashida Jones.
Deschanel was featured in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, opposite Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck and Rock the Kasbah alongside Bill Murray and Bruce Willis.
Other feature credits include Live Free or Die, Gigantic, Flakes, The Go-Getter, The Good Life, Winter Passing, The Happening, Abandon, Big Trouble, Your Highness and Driftless Area, as well as the Emmy Award-nominated cable miniseries Tin Man.
Deschanel’s work with She & Him has produced five albums, with a sixth coming this holiday season: Volume 1, Volume 2, A Very She & Him Christmas, Volume 3 and Classics. The band has sold out tours in the U.S., U.K. and Europe. Additionally, Deschanel earned a Grammy Award nomination for her original song, “So Long,” written for the feature animated film Winnie the Pooh, for which she also sang the classic Sherman Brothers’ theme song. Country music legend Loretta Lynn announced from the stage of Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, during the live music series Opry Country Classics, that she has chosen Deschanel to portray her in an upcoming Broadway-bound stage adaptation of Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Deschanel collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger on a line of dresses, bags and accessories titled To Tommy, From Zooey. The fashion line, sold at Macy’s and Tommy Hilfiger, landed to great success with multiple styles selling out on the first on-sale date. She has been the face of Pantene and Rimmel Cosmetics. She starred in a commercial for iPhone’s Siri application, and she has two campaigns for Cotton, to which she also lent original music. Deschanel also is co-creator and a frequent contributor to the website HelloGiggles.
A Los Angeles native, Deschanel was named for the male character in J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. She spent much of her childhood on-location with her actress mother, Mary Jo, and her father, Caleb, an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer. Deschanel credits her father with instilling in her a keen visual sense and great style.
CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE’s (Gristle) film credits include Kick-Ass 2, Smurfs2, Movie 43, Pitch Perfect, Paranorman, Fright Night, Marmaduke, How to Train Your Dragon, Kick Ass, Year One, Role Models and Superbad. Recently, he appeared in Universal’s hit Neighbors (and its sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) opposite Ike Barinholtz, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne.
Mintz-Plasse was a series lead on CBS’s Friend Me, recurred on Dragons: Riders of the Berk and appeared on Party Down. Mintz-Plasse can also be seen in a recurring role in Netflix’s Flaked opposite Will Arnett. He will next be seen starring in the new CBS series The Great Indoors opposite Joel McHale.
RUSSELL BRAND (Creek) is an acclaimed, comedian, presenter, author and actor.
Beginning his career as a stand-up comedian, Brand rose to fame in 2003 for his appearances on MTV and on the Big Brother spin-off, Big Brothers Big Mouth.
His career really took off in 2006 with his first nationwide standup tour, “Shame,” which was released on DVD as Russell Brand: Live. Brand launched his second nationwide tour in 2007, “Russell Brand: Only Joking,” released on DVD as Russell Brand: Doin Life. In 2009 he brought his stand-up comedy tour to the United States with “Russell Brand: Scandalous.” His most recent stand-up show is the critically acclaimed “Messiah Complex,” a DVD of which was released in December 2013.
Brand also hosted countless award shows including the 2006 NME Awards, 2007 Brit Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards, which he hosted in 2008, 2009 and 2012.
After his phenomenal success as a standup, Brand turned his attentions to Hollywood, where in 2008 he was seen as rocker Aldous Snow in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Since then Brand has starred in several films including Rock Of Ages, Arthur, Hop, Get Him To The Greek, Bedtime Stories, The Tempest, Paradise and as the voice of Dr. Nefario in the hugely successful Despicable Me series.
Brand is also an acclaimed author, and has written two books, My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up, and the follow up, Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal. Last October his best-selling book Revolution was published.
This February, Brand launched a YouTube series, The Trews, offering his unique take on current affairs, which has rapidly grown to a million subscribers. He also started a twice -weekly podcast, The Russell Brand Podcast, where he is reunited with his former radio partners Matt Morgan and the poet Mr. Gee.
Brand opened The Trew Era Café in March 2015 on the New Era estate, a social enterprise community project funded by his profits from his Revolution book.
He continues to support West Ham United.
CHRISTINE BARANSKI (Chef), one of the entertainment industry’s most honored actresses, has achieved acclaim in every medium in which she has performed. Baranski is an Emmy, two-time Tony, Screen Actors Guild, Drama Desk and American Comedy Award winner.
A native of Buffalo, Baranski attended the Juilliard School. She received her big break being cast in Tom Stoppard’s hit Broadway comedy The Real Thing, directed by Mike Nichols for which Baranski won a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award.
Baranski went on to earn a second Tony Award for her performance in Neil Simon’s Rumors. She also appeared in Boeing-Boeing, Hurlyburly, The House of Blue Leaves, The Loman Family Picnic, Regrets Only, Encores!’ productions of Follies, Promises, Promises and On Your Toes and the Kennedy Center productions of Sweeney Todd and Mame.
In addition to earning an Emmy for the hit CBS comedy Cybill, Baranski received an American Comedy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. She also received three additional Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations.
Baranski was seen as a guest on Frasier, for which she received a fifth Emmy nomination. She has appeared on multiple episodes of the CBS series The Big Bang Theory, and received four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in A Comedy Series.
Baranski recently concluded seven years on the hit CBS series The Good Wife, for which she received six Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and two Critics’ Choice Television Award nominations.
Her film credits include Miss Sloane, Into the Woods, Mama Mia! Chicago, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Bowfinger, Bulworth, Cruel Intentions, The Birdcage, Reversal of Fortune, Legal Eagles, The Ref, The Addams Family Values, Welcome to Mooseport, The Guru, 9 ½ Weeks and Jeffrey.
The multi-talented JAMES CORDEN (Biggie) is known around the world as a Tony Award-winning performer on Broadway, a BAFTA-winning star of a UK television series, a feature film actor, an Emmy nominated host, writer, and producer in several genres of television.
Corden can currently be seen hosting The Late Late Show, which premiered on CBS in March 2015 and has earned four Emmy nominations, a Critics Choice Awards nomination for Best Talk Show, set YouTube records and achieved its highest ratings, with any host, since the show’s inception in 1995. Corden separates his show from other late night shows by offering viewers a peek behind-the-scenes into the green room, bringing all of his guests out at once and lending his musical and acting talents to various sketches.
Most recently, Corden hosted The 70th Annual Tony Awards, which had the highest viewership in 15 years.
Corden continues to host the BAFTA Award winning UK sports-themed comedy game show A League of Their Own on Sky 1 and hosted the Brit Awards, the biggest event in the British music industry, from 2010 to 2014.
On television, Corden stars in, produces, and writes the BAFTA nominated comedy thriller The Wrong Mans, which is available on Hulu and airs on the BBC. In 2013, Corden was awarded the Royal Television Society Award for Comedy Writer of the Year for his work on the show.
Previously, Corden starred as Smithy in the critically acclaimed BBC comedy series Gavin and Stacey, which he also co-created and co-wrote. For this role, he earned the BAFTA Television Award for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2008 and the British Comedy Award for Best Male Comedy Performer in 2007. The series received the British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy in 2008, as well as the National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Programme in 2010. Corden starred in the British television series Fat Friends from 2000 to 2005, which earned him a nomination for the 2000 Royal Television Society Award for Network Newcomer on Screen. In 2011, Corden had a recurring role in the popular BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, as Craig Owens, the Doctor’s roommate.
Corden is clearly a modern day renaissance man, taking his multi-dimensional talents to various roles on the big screen, including: Into the Woods with Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Emily Blunt, Begin Again with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, The Three Musketeers with Orlando Bloom, Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People with Jeff Bridges, and The History Boys with Dominic Cooper.
On stage, Corden attracted international attention as the lead in the hit comedic play One Man, Two Guvnors, which he first performed in The National Theatre and the West End in London, and then on Broadway. His performance on Broadway garnered him the 2012 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. Corden’s additional theater credits include the worldwide tour of The History Boys, in the role of Timms, which he also played in the feature film adaptation.
Over the course of his career, Corden has been awarded the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for Comedy Writer of the Year, the South Bank Show Award for Comedy, the TRIC Award for Best Comedy, and the National Television Award for Best Comedy.
JEFFREY TAMBOR (King Peppy) has earned deep respect for being one of the most versatile and accomplished character actors in film and television. Tambor’s unforgettable roles in such popular programs as The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development reveal his unique comedic gifts, while his roles in films such as And Justice for All and Meet Joe Black display the depth of his dramatic sensibilities.
Tambor can currently be seen in the Golden Globe-winning Amazon show Transparent, written by Jill Soloway and co-starring Judith Light, Gaby Hoffman, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass. Tambor was awarded an Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Maura, who spent her life as Mort, the Pfefferman family patriarch. After Maura reintroduces herself to her family, everyone’s secrets finally start to come out.
Season three of Transparent will premiere this fall.
Tambor recently wrapped 55 Steps, directed by Billie August, opposite Hilary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter; and Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin, opposite Steve Buscemi, Olga Kurylenko and Timothy Dalton.
He was recently seen in the motion picture The Accountant opposite Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons and Anna Kendrick. The film, directed by Gavin O’Connor, follows a mild manner accountant who moonlights as a lethal assassin.
Tambor attended San Francisco State University, where he received a BA degree in Drama in 1965. He then went to Wayne State University earning an MFA in 1969. Tambor was studying for his PhD when he left in 1970 for a role in Richard II with Richard Chamberlain at the Seattle Repertory Theater.
Tambor made his Broadway debut in the comedy Sly Fox (1976), appearing opposite George C. Scott, directed by Arthur Penn. He appeared in the New York Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure that same year.
Tambor has remained active in theater, directing Lanford Wilson’s Burn This at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles, and acting and directing at many regional theatre companies, including the Academy Festival Theatre in Chicago and the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard, and in plays by Shakespeare, Molière and Chekhov, as well as by more contemporary writers. In 2005, he returned to Broadway as George Aaronow in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.
Tambor had one of television’s most memorable roles as Hank Kingsley, the self-centered sidekick to talk show host Larry Sanders on HBO’s critically acclaimed The Larry Sanders Show. He starred in the long running, Emmy Award-winning sitcom, Arrested Development; Netflix aired the fourth season, where Tambor reprised his roles as twin brothers George Bluth Sr. and Oscar Bluth.
Tambor provided voices for the animated films Tangled, Monsters vs. Aliens, the Disney animated film Cinder Biter, as well as Clockwork Girl. Additionally, he was the voice of King Neptune in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Tambor is currently the voice of Professor Cakes in the Adult Swim series China, Il.
Tambor has also appeared in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Flypaper, Paul, and Win, Win. He has co-starred in the two Hellboy films, as well as all in the three The Hangover movies, The Invention of Lying, There’s Something About Mary, City Slickers, Miss Congeniality, Dreamchasers, Mr. Mom, Brenda Starr, Radioland Murders, Doctor Dolittle, and Pollock. For the feature adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), he played the Mayor of Whoville. Tambor starred in the HBO film Phil Spector, opposite Al Pacino and Helen Mirren and For the Love of Money, with Edward Furlong.
Tambor lives in New York with his wife Kasia and their four children. He has been accorded numerous honors for his professional work, including an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as two Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Comedy Series.
KUNAL NAYYAR (Guy Diamond) is best known for his work as Rajesh Koothrappali on television’s #1 comedy, The Big Bang Theory. The series has been nominated for multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, Critic’s Choice Awards and won the People’s Choice Award for favorite network TV comedy three years in a row.
In 2015, Nayyar made his New York Theatre debut in The Spoils. He starred in the off-Broadway play alongside Jesse Eisenberg, who also penned the play. The Spoils production went to London in 2016, and Nayyar made his West End debut. His additional theater credits include Huck and Holden at the Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles, for which Nayyar was awarded Best Male Lead in a Play on the West Coast by the Garland Awards, and Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
Nayyar was the voice of Vijay on the Nickelodeon animated series, Sanjay and Craig. He also lent his voice to 20th Century Fox’s blockbuster animated feature Ice Age: Continental Drift.
In addition to his acting career, Nayyar signed a deal with Atria Books to create a collection of short stories based on his experiences growing up in India and his journey to becoming an actor in Los Angeles. The book hit shelves in September 2015.
Nayyar guest hosted The Late Late Show on CBS. He took over the show for three nights and interviewed Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Newhart, Simon Helberg, Sarah Hyland and Britt Robertson. His episodes aired February 25 – 27, 2015.
His other credits include a recurring role on the Vince Vaughn produced TBS show, Sullivan & Sons, as well as the independent feature, Consumed, directed by Daryl Wein.
Nayyar produced the documentary, Beyond All Boundaries, about competitive cricket in India. The documentary follows three people and their passion for the sport: Sudhir, a penniless superfan who cycles across India to cheer the team; Prithvi, a 12-year old boy wonder who is a cricket prodigy; and Akshaya, a girl cricketer from Mumbai’s slums.
After high school, Nayyar left India for the United States, where he majored in business and took acting classes at the University of Portland, in Oregon. In Nayyar’s senior year, he was nominated as the best actor in his play, The Rose Tattoo, and was given an invitation to the American College Theater Festival (ACTF) to compete in an acting competition, where he eventually won the Mark Twain Award for comic brilliance, as well as a fellowship to the prestigious Sundance Theater Lab. Nayyar went on to receive his Masters in Fine Arts for acting from Temple University in Philadelphia.
He was born in London, England, and spent most of his younger years growing up in New Delhi, India. Nayyar currently resides in Los Angeles. He can be followed on Twitter @kunalnayyar. And on instagram @kunalkarmanayyar.
International award-winning Swedish duo ICONA POP (The Fashion Twins) returned this summer with a hot new collaborative dance track Weekend, with Chicago-based production duo Louis The Child. They performed live at Coachella Music Festival and garnered a Top 10 iTunes Dance chart look, alongside more than 1.8 million streams.
Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt have become household names as Icona Pop since hitting the scene in 2012 with their triple platinum hit single, “I Love It” (featuring Charli XCX). Since the release of their debut album This Is… Icona Pop (via Record Company TEN/Big Beat/Atlantic Records) in 2013, the duo have been featured in the hit HBO series Girls; live performances on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, and America’s Got Talent; and sold-out tours worldwide tours supporting Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and One Direction.
Make Up For Ever has joined forces with Icona Pop for an artistic collaboration, Artist Rouge lipstick line, which arrived in August.
JOHN CLEESE (King Gristle I) was born and brought up in Weston-superMare. However, he recovered to win a place to study science at Cambridge. After sampling the conversation in the chemistry laboratories, he switched to law. The success of the 1963 Cambridge Footlights Revue, which played in the West End and on Broadway, saved him from a legal career.
Cleese first shot to fame in England with The Frost Report in 1966, and in 1969 he co-created Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The team went on to conquer the world with four cult TV series and four hugely successful films: And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974), The Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983). The Pythons reunited for a one-off series of ten live stage shows in the UK in 2014.
After leaving Python, Cleese moved on to create Basil Fawlty, the hotel manager from hell, in Fawlty Towers. As one of the most successful TV series ever made, the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers have been repeated on the BBC many times.
In 1988, he starred in and co-wrote A Fish Called Wanda. He reunited the stars of Wanda in 1996 to make Fierce Creatures, a film about a zoo, which went on worldwide release in 1997.
In addition to his work with Monty Python, Cleese’s film credits as an actor include The Great Muppet Caper (1980), Time Bandits (1980), Privates on Parade (1982) Silverado (1984), Clockwise (1986), Terry Jones’s Erik the Viking, Eric Idle’s Splitting Heirs (1992), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), The Jungle Book (1995), The Wind in the Willows (1996), The Out-of-Towners (1999), and Rat Race (2001). Cleese has also appeared in the James Bond and Harry Potter movie series.
For his work on television, Cleese won an Emmy Award for his guest role on the comedy series Cheers, and received another Emmy nomination for a guest stint on 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Less well known is the fact that Cleese co-wrote (with Robin Skynner) two bestselling books on psychology, Families and How to Survive Them, and Life and How to Survive It. He also co-founded Video Arts in 1972, which became the largest producer of management and sales training films outside the United States. Video Arts was sold in 1991.
Cleese started the Secret Policeman’s Ball concerts for Amnesty International, and has continued to do a lot of charity work.
In his twilight years he passes his time writing film scripts, making speeches to business audiences, doing seminars on creativity, teaching at Cornell University and constructing a virtual reality space (his website, www.thejohncleese.com)
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MIKE MITCHELL (Director) is one of the industry’s most talented and sought-after directors, whose films have taken in more than $1 billion worldwide. From directing Shrek Forever After, to writing for The Ren & Stimpy Show and SpongeBob Squarepants, to executive-producing Kung Fu Panda 3, Mitchell is often recognized as having one of the most versatile backgrounds in the business. His latest, Trolls, is being released by DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox on November 4, 2016.
Immediately after his graduation from CalArts, Mitchell began working for Tim Burton as a story artist and assisted Spike Jonze with his features, commercials and music videos. In 1996, Mitchell began his collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. In addition to directing Shrek Forever After, the final chapter of the most successful animated franchise ever, he advised and consulted on films such as Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, and Home.
Outside animation, Mitchell’s films include Sky High, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and the live-action sequences for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Additionally, he directed the television pilot and several episodes for the Fox show Greg the Bunny starring Seth Green and Sarah Silverman, as well as “Action League Now!” from Nickelodeon’s Kablam!
In his career, Mitchell has received numerous awards for his work, including the 1999 Spirit of Slamdance Award for his short film, Herd, and the 1993 Sundance Film Festival’s Best of Fest Award for his animated short, Frannie’s Christmas. His film Shut Up Lil Man premiered at Austin’s SXSW film festival and featured handmade puppets of his own design.
WALT DOHRN (Co-Director), one of DreamWorks Animations most trusted story experts, previously served as Head of Story on the hits Peabody and Sherman and Shrek Forever After. A multitalented artist, Dohrn has on many occasions lent his voice to various characters in previous DreamWorks Animation films, and in Shrek Forever After made his debut as a voice performer in a leading role, bringing to life the conniving and hilarious villain Rumpelstiltskin.
Perfecting the character’s performance came naturally to Dohrn, as he simultaneously developed the character while acting as Head of Story for the film. In that capacity, Dohrn was responsible for supervising the development of the film’s plot, working in close collaboration with director Mike Mitchell and supervising a team of story artists.
Since joining DreamWorks Animation in 2002, Dohrn contributed to the story of Rise of the Guardians, Shrek the Third, Madagascar, Shark Tale, and Shrek 2. In addition, Dohrn wrote the lyrics for the songs “Final Showdown” (Shrek the Third) and “Fairy Godmother Song” (Shrek 2).
Prior to joining DreamWorks Animation, he worked as a storyboard artist and writer. Dohrn’s credits include the critically acclaimed audience favorites SpongeBob Squarepants and Dexter’s Laboratory.
GINA SHAY (Producer) has over 25 years of experience producing animated films, which includes a full decade of films and shorts for DreamWorks Animation. She produced the box-office hit Shrek Forever After, the fourth installment of the wildly successful Shrek franchise. Shay’s list of shorts include Shrek the Halls, Shrek’s first-ever original animated holiday special, which aired to an enthusiastic response in November of 2007 on ABC.
Before joining DreamWorks Animation, Shay spent a decade producing for Paramount Pictures, serving as executive producer of The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. Shay was also the co-producer on Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeons Movies’ first CG Oscar-nominated animated feature film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Prior to that she was the line producer on the highly acclaimed, award-winning, CG animated feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, where her responsibilities included putting together a digital animation studio in just two months’ time, in order to accommodate the feature’s demanding production schedule.
Shay began her professional career in filmmaking as a production manager on Ralph Bakshi’s and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Cool World. She then moved on to Disney to serve as associate producer on two films, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin and Pocahontas: Journey to a New World. Shay also worked on the virtual attraction The Spider-Man Ride for Universal Studios Theme Park.
Shay attended Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, New York.
JONATHAN AIBEL & GLENN BERGER (Screenwriters, Co-Producers) are the writing and producing team behind some of today’s most beloved and popular family films. To date, their movies have grossed over 2.75 billion dollars at the worldwide box office and over one billion dollars domestically.
Aibel and Berger met right out of college while working as management consultants in Boston. It was there they discovered their passion for comedy writing and lack of passion for management consulting. So they threw away their suits and briefcases and moved to Los Angeles. Since then, Aibel and Berger have written some of the most successful family films of the past decade, and have positioned themselves as two of the most talented and respected comedy writers in the industry. They pride themselves on scripting films that appeal to audiences of all ages, with a combination of character-based comedy, action, and emotion.
The pair wrote and co-produced DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3, and wrote last year’s Paramount hit, The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Other family film credits include Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and DreamWorks Animation’s first 3D film, Monsters vs. Aliens.
In addition to their work in film, Aibel and Berger were part of the original staff of the animated Fox hit series King of the Hill. They remained at the show for six seasons, and rose to become executive producers, garnering four Emmy nominations and one win.
KENDAL CRONKHITE-SHAINDLIN (Production Designer) served as production designer on Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted. In her role as production designer, Cronkhite-Shaindlin is responsible for the “look of the film” by managing the art/character departments and communicating with the other departments to assure the quality and continuity of the film.
Cronkhite-Shaindlin joined PDI/DreamWorks as an art director in its pioneering days and worked on the studio’s first computer animated film, Antz. Prior to joining the company, she served as a freelance editorial illustrator in Canada and New York. Cronkhite-Shaindlin was also the assistant art director on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and the art director on Disney’s James and the Giant Peach.
Cronkhite-Shaindlin received her BFA from the Art Center College of Design with a major in illustration.